PHOENIX—Twenty of the most talented high-school seniors in Arizona have earned the 2011 Flinn Scholarship, one of the nation’s most prestigious awards for undergraduate studies. In August, the newest Flinn Scholars will arrive on the campuses of Arizona’s public universities with eye-popping academic credentials and established records of service to their schools and communities.
The 26th class of Flinn Scholars will receive a package that provides for tuition, room, and board; personal mentorship by decorated faculty; funding for international study and research; and additional benefits. The total package is valued at more than $90,000.
The 20 Scholars represent 17 high schools in seven Arizona cities and towns: Avondale, Chandler, Mesa, Payson, Phoenix, Tempe, and Tucson. Three Scholars emerged from University High School in Tucson, and two more were selected from Desert Vista High School in Phoenix. A Scholar was chosen for the first time from Marana High School, Mesa High School, and Westview High School in Avondale.
The Flinn Scholars Class of 2011 will be introduced formally on May 15 at the program’s annual Recognition Dinner at the Ritz-Carlton in Phoenix, where they will be honored before some 200 family members, university officials, community leaders, and graduating Flinn Scholars.
When the new Flinn Scholars come to the stage at the Recognition Dinner, each will salute an educator of their choice, also invited to the dinner, who has influenced the Scholar in an important way.
David J. Gullen, M.D., chair of the Flinn Foundation board of directors, noted the importance of the Flinn Scholars Program to the Foundation’s mission.
“All of our philanthropic efforts aim to improve the quality of life in Arizona to benefit future generations, and our board believes that the greatness that Arizona would achieve in its second century depends on the contributions of talented individuals,” Dr. Gullen said.
“These are the sort of people we work to identify as Flinn Scholars and help to retain at Arizona’s universities,” Dr. Gullen added. “In the years to come, they will emerge as some of our state’s most valuable leaders, both in their chosen fields and in public life.”
Becoming a Flinn Scholar involves an application and interview process that is substantially more competitive than the admission process for the most selective liberal-arts colleges and research universities. The newest Scholars were chosen from a candidate pool of 580 applicants. In March, 43 finalists were interviewed by a Selection Committee comprised of distinguished Arizona leaders.
“To observe these young adults explain advanced scientific concepts to our committee and a moment later dissect global political dilemmas, one can only feel encouraged about the future,” said Jack Jewett, president and CEO of the Flinn Foundation. “There is good reason that the nation’s top universities have recruited our Scholars so aggressively.
“Part of what we have here is a good-news story about education in Arizona,” Jewett continued. “The parents and teachers who have inspired these students have given them an essential start. Now they are about to become Honors students at Arizona’s universities, where world-class instruction and research experiences await them. The breadth of their opportunities is thrilling.”
Delivering the keynote address at the May 15 Recognition Dinner will be Kimberly Demarchi, a 1993 Flinn Scholar and a member of this year’s Flinn Scholarship Selection Committee. A graduate of Yale Law School, Demarchi is a partner in the Phoenix law offices of Lewis and Roca. She holds the position of president-elect of the Arizona Women Lawyers Association, chairs the Appellate Practice Section of the State Bar of Arizona, and is a member of the inaugural class of the Flinn-Brown Civic Leadership Academy.
As a group, the new Scholars averaged 1370 out of 1600 on the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) and 32 out of 36 on the American College Test (ACT). Nine students were at least semifinalists in the National Merit competition—a benchmark honor of the top high-school students nationally.
The Flinn Scholars Program is among a handful of statewide or regional merit-based undergraduate scholarship programs run by private philanthropies. In addition to eight semesters of study at an Arizona university, the scholarship award includes:
- a three-week intensive seminar in Central Europe;
- at least one additional study/travel experience abroad or in the United States;
- mentorship by a university faculty member in the Scholar’s field of study;
- invitations to cultural events and activities designed to introduce the Scholars to leaders in various fields;
- opportunities to participate with university faculty in research programs and professional meetings;
- membership in an active and mutually supportive community of nearly 500 Scholars and alumni.
Baseline requirements for applicants this year were:
- a minimum 3.5 grade-point average;
- a ranking in the top 5 percent of their graduating class;
- a minimum score of 1300 on the SAT test or 29 on the ACT;
- demonstrated leadership abilities.
To retain the scholarship, Scholars must maintain a cumulative 3.2 grade-point average and participate in campus or community activities.
The Flinn Scholars Program, begun in 1986, is operated by the Flinn Foundation Scholarship Program LLC and supported by the Flinn Foundation, a private, nonprofit, grantmaking charity based in Phoenix. The Foundation was established in 1965 by the late Dr. and Mrs. Robert S. Flinn with the mission of improving the quality of life in Arizona. In addition to the Scholars Program, the Foundation supports the advancement of Arizona’s bioscience sector, the arts, and the Arizona Center for Civic Leadership.